Friday, July 29

Modeling Shapes in Your Paintings

An Acrylic of Mine with Modeling
Copyright 2008
My current painting (which is not today's image) includes faces, arms, and hands of several people. Although it is representational, it’s not photo-realistic by any means, but neither is it so impressionistic that some details don’t matter.

I am painting the shapes to show their form, roundness, and curvature. As I was working on the painting yesterday, it occurred to me that what I’m really doing is modeling, or at least that’s what I thought I was doing. That is, I am painting an arm, for instance, to show that it has a shape, it has shadows, and it reflects light from the light source.
So, I thought modeling would make a good topic for today’s blog. What is ‘modeling’ in the context of painting? I Googled it and got a variety of hits, not all of them having anything to do with painting—some were about business models and some were about fashion modeling—and a lot were simply links to art classes where modeling is taught.
Anyway, I picked one that gives a lot of definitions of the word— I’m not sure this is the best source, but it was the most relevant on the first several pages of hits.
It defines model/modeling (also spelled modelling) as a verb in this sense as: plan or create according to a model or models; form in clay, wax, etc.; assume a posture as for artistic purposes; display (clothes) as a mannequin; create a representation or model of; construct a model of.
I suppose that’s what I’m doing as I paint, although those definitions seem more for a solid or 3D form than for a 2D painting.
Since I’m painting faces and arms, I decided to look at my book, Anatomy for the Artist by Daniel Carter and Michael Courtney. It has way more on the subject than I ever care to know, such as “the bones of the elbow joint,” but if nothing else, it is comprehensive.
I think I found what I needed in a short section on planes, light, and contour. It simply says to be aware of these three things to render correctly, especially direction of light (it even says to draw an arrow on your support, so you don’t forget). It says finding the darkest areas or tone first will help establish the rest. It also says to use looser lines in figure drawing and angular strokes for plane changes.
Simple sounding, but not so simple to actually do. This is one of those skills that's going to take practice, practice, practice.
Happy Painting!

1 comment:

  1. The painting is very cool. I love the impasto paint application and the loose expressive brushstrokes. A very cool and lovely painting.